Brewed to perfection

Six Degrees Coffee owners buoy the java scene

Amy Louis, left, and Elizabeth Goldblatt have transformed the local coffee scene.

Amy Louis, left, and Elizabeth Goldblatt have transformed the local coffee scene.

Photo By melissa daugherty

If you’ve had a really good coffee drink in Chico, odds are Amy Louis and Elizabeth Goldblatt had something to do with it. By really good, I’m talking single-origin Arabica beans from some of the world’s finest coffee-growing regions. Think Nicaragua, Kenya, Indonesia.

Even if you consider yourself a coffee snob, you probably haven’t heard of Louis and Goldblatt or their company, Six Degrees Coffee. But that doesn’t matter to the Chico businesswomen, whose coffee-distribution company has been slowly, methodically and quietly turning residents of Butte County and beyond into java drinkers of discriminating taste.

“There’s really no reason for people to know us,” said Louis, company president.

What matters is that over the past decade the company has helped bring the North State’s coffee scene to a new level, helping to grow its clients’ business and in turn Six Degrees Coffee, which, just a few months ago, celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

During an interview at the company’s headquarters in north Chico, Louis made this reporter a piping hot and delicious Chai latte. She made it in the office’s special kitchen, a demonstration area with everything a budding barista could ask for, including a $13,000 espresso machine.

The company sells that high-end machine, along with other equipment and supplies, everything from specialty syrups to cups, to locations (cafés, offices, churches, etc.) from the Yuba City area to Redding. “We sell anything a café needs other than food,” said Louis, who quickly noted the business sells biscotti and oatmeal. (The company also sells products to bars.)

But Six Degrees is more than a middleman. Louis explained that the company does business consultation, equipment maintenance and employee training, among other services. That last part is extremely important, as Louis wants her clients’ patrons getting nothing less than perfection.

Louis is something of a coffee dignitary, having spent 25 years in the male-dominated business, working in sales and distribution in the Bay Area for some of the biggest names in coffee, such as Starbucks. She also worked for Peet’s Coffee & Tea and is responsible for starting the wholesale division of that company. In other words, if you brew Peet’s at home, you have her to thank for that. Today, she sells Peet’s through Six Degrees’ grocery division.

She explained how all of her various jobs in the biz, and the birth of her eldest daughter, eventually led her away from the demands of corporate life and back to Chico, where she’d gone to college. She started Six Degrees out of her garage with Goldblatt, the vice president of operations, whom she met decades earlier during a stint at a financial company.

Goldblatt recently returned from a buying trip to Nicaragua with the Thanksgiving Coffee Company to meet with fair-trade farmers. She and Louis pride themselves on knowing where the coffee comes from, and offering benefits to the company’s 10 employees.

“We are passionate about what we do, and we walk the talk,” Louis summed up.